Festivus Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Festivus Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Getting BAKED for Festivus! Happy Festivus! (“the festival for the rest of us”)
We shall begin with the Airing of Grievances…

“I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it!”

Festivus Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Festivus Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
Cooking Spray
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 squares unsweetened baker’s chocolate (shaved, not chipped)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks butter (softened)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cup (semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix flour, baker’s chocolate, baking soda and salt in medium bowl and set aside.

Mix (cream) the butter and both sugars until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.

Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Add the chocolate chips.
(substitute or add other flavored chips, nuts, M&Ms or other candy pieces if desired)

Roll the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Press the dough down to about an inch thick with space between.

Bake 18 minutes or until they are not glossy. Cool and enjoy! Makes about 2 dozen.

 

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Festivus Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Festivus Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Festivus Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Festivus Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

tenor

Cooooooookieeeeeee!

Homemade chocolate chocolate chip cookies with double vanilla ice cream sandwich

Homemade chocolate chocolate chip cookies with double vanilla ice cream sandwich!

 

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Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Thirty guests for the holiday feast this year! We host our large annual gathering of family, friends and friends of friends. Visitors to our home included folks from faraway places: Finland, France, Scotland, the Czech Republic and West Hollywood.

You can compare this year to last year’s pics (in the previous Blog post), it was another very good year for food. I am truly thankful for this bountiful feast and the family and friends I shared it with. I am truly thankful for many things, including you reading this blog!

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – A Dozen Beautiful Roses! “There’s gonna be a party tonight!”

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Thanksgiving dinner,
Our annual food orgy,
A friendly feast!

Preparations begin early in the week and continue all the way until the meal is served. The party was called for 4:00pm pst on Thursday and we always allow time for our guests to arrive before the dining commences.

The turkeys are thawed and prepared the night before. This year we had two 18 pound organic turkeys, seasoned with a herb & butter rub under the skin. One bird cooks at our house and the other at my sister’s kitchen. She also makes the garlic mashed potato, chocolate bread pudding and fudge. This year her vegetarian friend was visiting so they made the summer squash as well.

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Turkey #1 BEFORE

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Turkey #1 AFTER

Thanksgiving 2015 Dinner Menu:
Two 18 pound organic turkeys, gravy, two kinds of stuffing, garlic mashed potato, corn pudding, yam puree, asparagus, creamed spinach, mixed grilled vegetables, summer squash, fruit compote, cranberry sauce and cornbread muffins.

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving Feast 2015!

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Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving Feast 2015!

And there was some wine and other beverages:

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Wine and Finnish chocolate brought by our guests from Finland

Thanksgiving 2015 Dessert Menu:
Pumpkin, pecan and apricot pies (we also had an apple but didn’t bake it); chocolate chip cookies, 2 kinds of fudge, blondies, chocolate bread pudding & fresh whipped cream, Czech cake with marzipan, a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream (someone brought a flourless chocolate cake but we didn’t even put it out) and Grandma’s Cherry Cheesecake!

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – the Dessert Table is waiting!

I did a little baking the night before as I mentioned in the previous Blog post:

Thanksgiving 2015 - Baking (the night before)

Thanksgiving 2015 – Baking cornbread muffins & Grandma’s cherry cheesecake (the night before)

2 Dozen Cornbread Muffins and 1 Dozen Mini Cornbread Muffins:

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – A Bowl Full of Cornbread Muffins!

And this year, by request, I baked my Grandma’s Cherry Cheesecake:

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Grandma’s Cherry Cheesecake!

It was a great meal! And complete dessert overkill as usual. I had a full plate of tasty food for dinner and then only had a small piece of cheesecake and a couple pieces of fudge for dessert. And a good time and meal was had by all.

We have the whole process down and this year we used plastic (for dinner) and paper (for dessert) plates, so there was less to clean up and we saved some water in exchange for creating some additional trash.

I finished eating, helped with the clearing and clean up, watched the end of the Bears-Packers game and fell asleep. When I woke up, most of the final cleaning was done, the guests were gone and the tables and chairs were put away. So, BIG THANKS go out to my Step-Brother for helping out while I was napping!

It was an okay day for football. Detroit beat Philadelphia and Carolina beat Dallas, but Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers couldn’t finish and lost to Chicago, so I went 2 out of 3 on my picks. Bad news for Cowboy fans because Quarterback Tony Romo was seriously injured in the game and is out for the rest of the season. Sorry Bob.

Thanksgiving 2015 - Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Thanksgiving 2015 – Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Okay, we have “to go” boxes for our guests to take home leftovers from the feast if they are so inclined. I had cranberries with my brunch leftovers, but there wasn’t enough left for dinner the next day… we also sent most of the desserts home with our guests too.

Day After Leftovers for Brunch: turkey, stuffing, garlic mashed potato, cranberry sauce, gravy and cornbread muffins. (repeated for dinner without the cranberry)

Thanksgiving 2015 - Leftovers for Brunch the morning after!

Thanksgiving 2015 – Leftovers for Brunch the morning after!

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All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” to view previous Blogs:
Grandma’s Cherry Cheesecake Recipe – Read the Blog> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1SV
Read last year’s Thanksgiving 2014 Blog> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1mW

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Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 – Pretty flowers on the dining tables too.

HAPPY JERRY DAY!

HAPPY JERRY DAY 2014!

Happy Jerry Day!

Happy Jerry Day!

Today, August 1st is Jerry Garcia’s Birthday!

Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia aka Captain Trips – Late 60’s

Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia  August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995

Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead as lead guitarist, principal vocalist and one of the songwriter for their entire career (1965–1995). Garcia also played with the Saunders-Garcia Band (with longtime friend Merl Saunders), the Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, with David Grisman as the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, the Legion of Mary, the New Riders of the Purple Sage (Garcia co-founded NRPS with John Dawson and David Nelson) and sat in on sessions with other artists (most notably Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’ “Deja Vu” album, he plays the pedal steel guitar on “Teach Your Children”).

Dancing in the Streets - Haight Ashbury 1967

Dancing in the Streets! – Free Concert Haight Ashbury 1967

Jerry was well known for his distinctive guitar playing and ranked 13th in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and ranked the Grateful Dead No. 57 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Garcia is “the most recorded guitarist in history. With more than 2,200 Grateful Dead concerts, and 1,000 Jerry Garcia Band concerts captured on tape – as well as numerous studio sessions – there are about 15,000 hours of his guitar work preserved for the ages.”

photo by Baron Wolman 1969

Jerry Garcia – photo by Baron Wolman 1969

The Grateful Dead played at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in 1969 but their set was cut short because of weather, intoxication, and electrical problems. The band cut the set short after the stage amps overloaded during a 38 minute “Turn On Your Love Light”

The Grateful Dead at Woodstock August 16, 1969 from the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/gd69-08-16.sbd.cotsman.15205.sbeok.shnf )

While The Grateful Dead did perform and were filmed for the “Woodstock” movie (Jerry can be seen in brief interviews), at the band’s insistence, the footage was never used. The 40thAnniversary version of the film includes a reasonably edited “Turn on Your Lovelight” and “Mama Tried” in bonus material.

The Grateful Dead were also on the bill for the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont on December 6, 1969. the band was there and was scheduled to play between Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Stones but cancelled and didn’t play. They left the speedway after Jefferson Airplane’s guitarist Marty Balin was beaten unconcious by the Hell’s Angels.

The Grateful Dead at Watkins Glen Raceway, New York  July 28, 1973

The Grateful Dead at Watkins Glen, New York 1973

The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen once held the Guinness World Record for “Largest audience at a pop festival”  when approximately 600,000 rock fans gathered at Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway in New York on July 28, 1973. The Allman Brothers Band, the Grateful Dead and The Band performed. In 2013, the grounds crew stumbled across a group of abandoned cars from the 1973 Summer Jam concert that had been hiding in the woods for 40 years.

The Grateful Dead Movie 1977 directed by Jerry Garcia

The Grateful Dead Movie directed by Jerry Garcia

The Grateful Dead Movie from 1977 was directed by Jerry Garcia. The film captures live performances from the band’s October 1974 five-night stand at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco and features the massive “Wall of Sound” audio system used in 1974.

Jerry Garcia - Egypt 1978

Jerry Garcia – Egypt 1978

In September 1978, the Grateful Dead performed three shows at the Sound and Light Theater in the shadow of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt. The band donated all the proceeds to the country’s Department of Antiquities, which preserves Egypt’s ancient wonders. Fans from all over the world traveled to Egypt and for the last show on Sept. 16, they witnessed a total lunar eclipse during the concert.

The Dead recorded all three nights with the intention of putting out a live album, but technical problems ruined the tapes from the first date and much of the second. In 2008, they released “Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978” a two-CD/DVD box set of the best performances from the last two nights.

From "High Times" 1980

From “High Times” 1980

In September-October 1980, the Grateful Dead played three sets during their concert performances, one acoustic followed by two electric sets. The acoustic sets were the first the band had performed since the early ’70s. The tour played 15 shows at The Warfield in San Francisco, 2 shows at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, and 8 shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The following year, songs from the tour were released as two live albums, the all-acoustic Reckoning and the all-electric Dead Set.

Dead Ahead is a concert video by the Grateful Dead. It was recorded at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on October 30 and October 31, 1980, and released in 1981. An expanded version was released in 2005.

Here’s the full Halloween concert from Radio City 10-31-80 on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTYEE5mgEOY

Jerry Garcia in concert - 1985

Jerry Garcia in concert – 1985 by an unknown photographer

Jerry battled heroin addiction in the 80s and again in the 90s, getting busted in Golden Gate park in 1985 and then slipping into a diabetic coma and almost dying in 1986. The coma forced him to relearn how to play the guitar, as well as other, more basic skills.

The song “Touch of Grey” is from the album In the Dark and is known for its refrain “I will get by / I will survive”. The music was composed by Jerry Garcia, the lyrics written by Robert Hunter. It was also released as a music video, the first one by the Grateful Dead. First performed as an encore on September 15, 1982 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, it was finally released on In the Dark in 1987. The song got into the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 9, and reached number 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, the only song by the band ever to do so on both charts.

The music video for “Touch of Grey” gained major airplay on MTV and featured a live performance by the band, first as life-size skeleton marionettes, then as themselves live on stage. The video was directed by Gary Gutierrez, who had previously created the animation sequences for The Grateful Dead Movie. The popularity of the single and the music video helped introduce the band to a new group of fans (known as the “in-the-darkheads”), resulting in the band gaining mainstream attention for better and worse.

Also in 1987, the live album Dylan & the Dead was recorded during a successful stadium tour with Bob Dylan. It was released in 1989 with seven songs written and sung by Dylan, accompanied by the Grateful Dead and produced by Jerry Garcia and John Cutler.

Jerry Garcia - early 90's

Jerry Garcia – early 90’s

Spring 1990:

During the summer of 1990, keyboardist Brent Mydland died of a drug overdose. Mydland’s death greatly affected Garcia. Before beginning the fall tour, Vince Welnick and Bruce Hornsby joined he band and drove Garcia to new heights on stage in 1991.

Jerry Garcia 1991

Jerry Garcia in concert 1991

Jerry died of a heart attack in August 1995. Garcia had long struggled with drug addiction, weight problems, sleep apnea, a cigarette habit, and diabetes all of which contributed to his physical decline and death. Half of Garcia’s cremated ashes were scattered in the Ganges River at the holy city of Rishikesh, India, a site sacred to Hindus. And according to Garcia’s last wishes, the other half of his ashes were poured into the San Francisco Bay. Following his death, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead formally decided to disband.

The Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. On February 10, 2007, the band received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. And in 2011, the Dead’s Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University on May 8, 1977 was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

On July 21, 2005, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission renamed the amphitheater in McLaren Park “The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.” The amphitheater is located in the Excelsior District, where Garcia grew up. The first show at the newly renamed amphitheater was Jerry Day August 7, 2005. The dedication ceremony on October 29, 2005 was officiated by mayor Gavin Newsom.

Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream introduced in 1987

Some of Jerry’s best moments outside the Grateful Dead, a tribute from the Ben & Jerry’s website: http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/jerry-garcia-tribute

Jerry Garcia Ties

J. Garcia Line of Ties by Jerry

“Jerry Garcia ties are certainly head-turners. These flamboyant and colorful men’s accessories are guaranteed to stand out from even the most mundane business suit, so punch up your business wardrobe with several of these fun silk ties.”

Stay the Course (close up)

Stay the Course (close up) B. Peter

Grateful Dead official website: http://www.dead.net

JerryGarcia.com: http://jerrygarcia.com

Jerry Garcia’s Middle Finger Blog: http://jgmf.blogspot.com

Jerry RIP

Jerry RIP

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Three Great Adventures in Los Angeles near UCLA!

Three great adventures in Los Angeles near UCLA!

“Can you recommend a 5-hour round trip from LA to see the most sites? My husband and I will be visiting our son and his wife at UCLA in October from Alabama. While they are busy during the day, we would like to venture either north or south, preferably on the PCH to see some of California. In addition, we would love to find an interesting boutique or historic hotel to stay in near the UCLA campus.” ~ Nancy M. from Birmingham, Alabama

UCLA is in Westwood. Stay at the W Hotel Los Angeles in Westwood!

Five hours (round trip) is not a lot of time and Los Angeles is a very big place. Here are three great adventures near UCLA:

1. Santa Monica and Venice Beach

Santa Monica Pier Sign at Ocean Blvd

Santa Monica Pier Sign at Ocean Blvd

I recommend you head to Santa Monica (you can take a drive down Wilshire to San Vicente through Brentwood and do some shopping on Montana Avenue). Walk the Third Street Promenade, Palisades Park, and the Santa Monica Pier. Do some shopping at Santa Monica Place and have lunch at one of the many restaurants down by Santa Monica State Beach or head south on Pacific Coast Hwy to Venice Beach. Have lunch at one of the many restaurants there and visit the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Main Street and Abbot Kinney Blvd. If you have time drive into Marina Del Rey and have a drink at the The Ritz-Carlton.

A Nice Day in Marina del Rey (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

A Nice Day in Marina del Rey (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Take the 10 freeway or the Marina freeway back to the 405 freeway north, exit Wilshire Blvd east and you’ll be back in Westwood.

*One more quick note: You can also visit the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades-Malibu as a great side trip from Santa Monica. The Getty Villa houses a fantastic collection of ancient Greco-Roman art and sculpture! It’s FREE but you need to make reservations. http://www.getty.edu/visit/villa/ ___________________________________________________________________

2. Century City and Beverly Hills

Century Towers - Century City, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Century Towers – Century City, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Park at the Westfield Century City Mall in Century City, CA. There’s lots of shopping (including Bloomingdale’s), restaurants and the AMC Century City 15 movie theater. Take a walk into Century City (follow the people in suits going back to work) and visit the CAA building (aka “The Deathstar”), the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza (also a great place to stay), and the Century Towers and Plaza.

Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel - Century City, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel – Century City, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There’s more shopping and even better restaurants there (Craft is Tom Colicchio’s steak place). Be sure to visit the shops underground at the Twin Towers! Century City also has the The Annenberg Space for Photography (FREE!) and a few other art galleries. There are fantastic buildings and lots of hidden things to see if you just walk around during the day. Here’s a link to a list of museums and other info for the area (Westwood-Century City): http://centurycity.patch.com/directory/art-galleries

Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Rodeo Drive from the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

You can also drive to Beverly Hills and visit Rodeo Drive, there’s mega-shopping and wide variety of some of LA’s finest restaurants: Nate ‘n Al Delicatessen, Mastro’s Steakhouse, Spago Beverly Hills, Il Pastaio, Il Cielo, Fogo de Chao, Matsuhisa, Lawry’s the Prime Rib, The Farm of Beverly Hills, and many others! in addition to the The W Hotel Los Angeles – Westwood, the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills is a great boutique hotel and they have a wonderful restaurant, where you can dine indoors or outdoors in a poolside cabana at Oliverio at Avalon Beverly Hills restaurant.

Party at the InterContinental Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Bathtub/Walk-in Shower & view at the InterContinental Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

and The InterContinental Los Angeles Century City Hotel, the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, the Montage Beverly Hills, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Hotel, Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive, Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, London West Hollywood Hotel, Mondrian Hotel- Hollywood and Chateau Marmont are a few of the finest luxury hotels in the city.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Each hotel has at least one amazing restaurant and/or bar: 24/7 Diner and the Cactus Lounge/Pool at the Standard, Scarpetta and the Scarpetta Bar (and the hidden whiskey lounge Ten Pound by The Macallan), On Sunset @ Luxe Hotel (amazing Sunday Brunch!), LIVELLO, Culina, Modern Italian @CulinaLA, Tres by José Andrés, Saam at The Bazaar by José Andrés, On Rodeo Bistro Lounge, The Rooftop Grill, the Parq Bar, and Cut (Wolfgang Puck’s steak house) to name just a few.

LUXE on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

On Sunset Restaurant Patio at the LUXE on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

You must try Stan’s Donuts and Diddy Riese ice cream in Westwood Village And for a quick and tasty Chinese lunch or takeout try Jin Jiang at Santa Monica and Sepulveda. ___________________________________________________________________

3. The Getty Center

405 Freeway and the Getty Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

405 Freeway and the Getty Center (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

One more great 5 hour trip from UCLA is a trip to the The Getty Center and it’s FREE! http://www.getty.edu/visit/center/plan/

Getty Center Central Garden (view from museum)

Getty Center Central Garden (view from museum)

From the Getty Center website: “The collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center includes pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; 19th- and 20th-century American, European, and Asian photographs; contemporary and modern sculpture; and Robert Irwin’s Central Garden, designed specifically for the Getty Center….Contemporary and modern sculpture is featured throughout the grounds, including 28 modern and contemporary outdoor sculptures installed at the Getty Center, donated by Fran and Ray Stark.” In addition to the absolutely incredible Permanent Collection, they also have changing exhibitions. Here is the exhibition schedule: http://www.getty.edu/visit/exhibitions/

You won’t be able to see everything in five hours!*

So, take your time and explore two of the four art pavilions, walk the gardens and enjoy the amazing view from above.

Panoramic View of West L.A. from the Getty Center

Panoramic View of West L.A. from the Getty Center

There is food available (but it’s not inexpensive), so you might want to bring a picnic lunch from one of the hotel restaurant I mentioned in my previous post, or from Whole Foods Market in Westwood, or if it’s Thursday the Westwood Village Farmer’s Market. There’s also the lovely Bel-Air Bar & Grill on Sepulveda or On Sunset @ Luxe Hotel for fine dining, either before or after. The Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel is a beautiful property, and I recommend an upstairs room by the pool with a balcony if available.

LUXE on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE on Sunset (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

“Josh, these suggestions are fantastic—-can’t wait to show them to our kids before they move—-they will love them! I especially appreciate your recommending the Avalon Hotel. We love boutique hotels and this one is very reasonable! We may have to extend the trip and leave the kids behind! Thanks so much!” ~ Nancy M. from Birmingham, Alabama

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Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills

Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)